Instead of finding ways to calm road rage, however, the auto industry launched a campaign called "Motordom
" that faulted pedestrians for getting themselves hit by cars.
The marketing people were clearly no different in those days, describing the Tudor as "all that motordom
has to give."
Vancouver has done better than most in containing "Motordom
," but the struggle is far from won.
In the face of threats to regulate speed in the name of safety and restrict access in the name of efficiency, and as urban automobile sales slumped in 1923 to 1924, auto manufacturers, dealers, and clubs (increasingly united as "motordom") fought back in earnest, redefining the problem not as too many cars, but as too little street space, whose solution was to construct wider streets, not maximize the efficiency of existing ones.
With its comprehensive analysis of the variety of relevant social groups, Fighting Traffic is a welcome relief from conspiracy theories of the victory of motordom; it shows a complex process in which power is constructed (at times in wearying detail: chapter 7 has more than you ever wanted to know about Herbert Hoover's role in the creation of interest group politics).
Described as the Saville Row of motordom
, the car makers produced bespoke cars and the firm is still in operation, although in a fairly limited capacity.
In his book Fighting Traffic, historian of technology Peter Norton explains how "Motordom"--the alliance of car users, dealers and manufacturers--responded, most effectively with public safety programs that "socially reconstructed the purpose of the street." They convinced pedestrians, in particular, that if they wandered into the right-of-way when they wanted, where they wanted, they were "jaywalkers" --an appellation that succeeded not only in reducing conflict but also in turning the streets over to vehicles.
An even more tantalizing vision of a Motordom Utopia was unveiled in the General Motors pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair in New York--a blend of Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, a vast model of an urban region of separated uses with unparalleled mobility, made possible by sweeping, infinite arterials of freely flowing traffic.
The city had broken the agreement underlying Motordom: no more roads, no matter how many more cars.
By not building more road space, Vancouver's council violated an essential condition of the Motordom partnership.